- - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Sen. Marco Rubio calls President Obama’s remarkable gift to the Castro brothers, and agreement to “normalize” American relations with Cuba, the work of a “willfully ignorant” man. We hope so. Ignorance can be corrected. Perhaps, to put the most generous face on it, this deal originated in the bowels of White House incompetence that is the mark of this administration. But Mr. Obama may not be ignorant at all, willful or otherwise, but proceeding skillfully to radicalize America’s place in the world to fit the wishes and dreams of the determined and radical left from which the president sprang.

Like a skillful rug merchant trying to move defective goods, Mr. Obama wrapped the deal with something attractive, which he knew would have special appeal in the Christmas season, the release of an American wrongly imprisoned in Cuba for five miserable years. Alan Gross was a private contractor who was in Cuba to install equipment to enable access to the Internet. We rejoice for the freedom of an innocent man.

But in return, the president gave up three Cuban spies who were responsible for the deaths of three Americans whose plane was shot down over international waters. A three-for-one deal is sadly about par for an administration that traded a suspected Army deserter for Islamic militants in a five-for-one deal. Fidel and Raul Castro get an embassy in Havana and an ambassador to clothe the totalitarian police state with legitimacy and an economic lifeline.

This is a sucker deal writ very large. There is nothing in it to justify the popping of champagne corks in the White House, or in opening the White House humidor to pass around the Cohibas. The celebrations in Havana are at least logical for Fidel and his little brother Raul, who are getting what they have wanted for 50 years. But the deal won’t change politics in Cuba or bring about the end to the human rights abuses that the Castro brothers have made an art form.

The president, who is an intelligent man, said things yesterday in announcing his remarkable departure from reality that he must know are false. The deal, he says, will empower the Cuban people. “Change is hard,” he said, “in our own lives and in the lives of nations. And change is even harder when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders.” Whatever did he mean by that? Whose history? Whose shoulders? He did not say.

Mr. Obama has clearly set out to do things that he calculated he once couldn’t do and retain in the public eye a semblance of presidential responsibility. With his presidency headed for the exits, he is freed to do what comes naturally, to play to the tattered left edges of the Democratic Party, to move closer to his goal of transforming America, and put into place as many disfiguring elements as he can to the nation he inherited six years ago. He calculates that he has nothing to lose, and he may be right. But the nation that bestowed its supreme honor on the man, twice, has much to lose.

Mr. Rubio, whose constituency includes the large community of Cubans who fled their native land with their lives and not much else, promises that Republicans will try to block the nomination of an ambassador to Cuba with their new majority, and perhaps even the funding for establishing an embassy. We will soon see what stuff this Republican majority, whose leaders made with such big talk during the late campaign, is made of.


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